Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org September 11, 2014
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On the Inside
APPROPRIATIONS
Consideration of Funding Bill Delayed
ENVIRONMENT
House Passes Bill to Halt Administration’s Problematic Water Rule
LABOR
AGC-Opposed Paycheck Legislation Advances in Senate, for Now
Please Tell Us If You Are Having a Hard Time Finding Qualified Workers
TRANSPORTATION
Passenger Rail Bill Introduced in the House
2014 ELECTIONS
Primary Season Is Over
AGC EVENTS
Early Bird Discount Ends Tomorrow – Don’t Miss Out
Sign up NOW for the AGC/CFMA Construction Financial Management Conference
Early Bird Registration Opens for AGC Financial Issues Winter Meeting
APPROPRIATIONS
Consideration of Funding Bill Delayed
 

Yesterday, House Republicans decided to delay consideration of a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government funded after the end of the fiscal year – Sept. 30.  The decision was made following President Obama’s request to add language to the bill related to activities in the Middle East.  House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) explained that a delay in the vote was necessary because “everybody should be given time” to consider the president’s request.  The president is looking for congressional support for activities against ISIL.  While he is not yet seeking additional spending authority, he could seek as much as $500 million more to train and equip troops to fight ISIL after the election.

At this point, it appears the House will vote next week on the bill that funds the government through Dec. 11 at current discretionary levels of $1.012 trillion.  The CR would fund federal construction accounts at their 2014 levels but would prohibit any the start of any new federal construction projects.  Congress must pass this CR because they have failed to pass any of the individual annual appropriations bills. 

For more information, please contact Sean O’Neill at (202) 547-8892 or oneills@agc.org Return to Top

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ENVIRONMENT
House Passes Bill to Halt Administration’s Problematic Water Rule
 

Earlier this week, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 5078, the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act, by a vote of 262-152. This bill would halt the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (Corps) proposed rulemaking that redefines “waters of the U.S.” under the Clean Water Act (CWA).  It would prevent the agencies from finalizing the rule and require that they consult with state and local governments to form recommendations for a consensus regulatory proposal.

The bipartisan bill managed to pull nearly three dozen Democrats into the “yes” vote column from districts in every region of the country. This strong showing sends a helpful message to regulators that the proposal has serious flaws and people from many industries in all parts of the country have serious concerns. The bill now moves to the Senate, where Sen. Roberts (R-Kansas) has already called on Majority Leader Reid (D-Nev.) to hold a vote on the House bill. However, the Senate is unlikely to do so, as Reid is reluctant to force Democrats to vote on an unpopular administration regulation just before the election.

Additionally, the bill has drawn a veto threat from the president, meaning it will not become law even if passed by the Senate. AGC will continue to educate members of Congress on this issue and will be submitting comments on the rulemaking (both by itself and as part of the Waters Advocacy Coalition) by the Oct. 20 deadline.

If you would like to submit your own comments on the rule, visit AGC’s Regulatory Action Center.

For more information, please contact Scott Berry at (703) 837-5321 or berrys@agc.org Return to Top

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LABOR
AGC-Opposed Paycheck Legislation Advances in Senate, for Now
 

This week, the Senate voted to advance debate on the Paycheck Fairness Act by a vote of 73 to 25. The bill would give the government greater control over how a company’s employees are paid by expanding the Equal Pay Act to limit an employer’s ability to make pay decisions based on experience, local market rates, education, or other business factors. It could also threaten incentive programs, promote class action law suits, and create unlimited compensatory and punitive damages in Equal Pay Act cases. This bill would apply to all employers with two or more employees.

The legislation was originally considered in April, but ultimately stalled because the bill failed to meet the threshold of 60 votes. During the April debate, all republicans opposed it, while all democrats supported it. This week’s vote was a procedural hurdle and the legislation will have to overcome another 60 vote threshold again on Monday before the Senate can vote on its passage. The vote Monday is expected to fail, similar to the April outcome. In advance of this week’s vote, AGC joined over 20 national employer associations in an opposition letter to the legislation.

Consideration of the legislation for a second time is viewed as a political move ahead of the November mid-term elections as many of the provisions of the Paycheck Fairness Act are contained within presidential directives. So far this year, four executive orders and one presidential memorandum impacting contractors that hold federal agency contracts or receive federally-assisted contracts administered by state and local governments have been issued. Those executive orders and memorandum, in chronological order, call for: (1) raising the minimum wage paid to federal contractor employees ; (2) prohibiting retaliation against employees who reveal compensation information; (3) mandating new employee compensation data reporting; (4) prohibiting sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination; and (5) altering considerations for contract award based on contractor labor law violations, limiting employer-mandated arbitration, and requiring contractors to provide certain pay information to employees.  

For more information, please contact Jim Young at (202) 547-0133 or youngj@agc.org Return to Top

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Please Tell Us If You Are Having a Hard Time Finding Qualified Workers
Responses Will Help Us Push for Measures Outlines in AGC Workforce Development Plan
 

Since we conducted our first survey to gauge the extent of workforce shortages last Fall, we have heard from many of you that the labor market has only become tighter in the intervening twelve months as demand continues to grow for many types of construction in many parts of the country. While it is clear that worker shortages are a growing concern, and in some cases a significant problem, we feel it is important to better quantify where these shortages are taking place, how severe they are, and what steps firms are taking to both cope with tight labor markers and improve the supply of new, qualified workers. That is why we are asking you to take a few minutes to complete the following workforce survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2014AGCWorkforceSurvey.

Your responses will help us better define the problem to elected and appointed officials, the media, educators and your peers within the business community. The more people understand the scope, and consequences, of a tight construction labor market, the more likely they are to act on the measures we identify in our Workforce Development Plan, which are designed to make it easier for school systems, local associations and private firms to establish career and technical education and training programs.

Thank you in advance for your time and support. 

If you have questions or would like more information, please contact Brian Turmail at (703 837-5310 or turmailb@agc.org. Return to Top

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TRANSPORTATION
Passenger Rail Bill Introduced in the House
 

This morning, the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, along with the Railroad Subcommittee, introduced the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2014 (PRRIA).  This bipartisan legislation is scheduled to be considered by the full committee on Wednesday, Sept. 17.

The main focus of the bill is to reform and improve our nation’s intercity passenger rail systems.  These reforms are achieved mostly through changes to Amtrak and their operating procedures.  Of interest to AGC and our members, the bill provides $300 million annually for capital grants of which 50 percent is required to go to the Northeast Corridor.  The bill seeks to leverage non-federal participation in intercity passenger rail by creating station development opportunities for the private sector, and opening new revenue streams through right-of-way development. 

In addition, the bill makes changes to the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) program, which provides long-term, low interest loans for railroad-related improvements that can help advance large-scale infrastructure projects. The changes to the RRIF program are intended to speed up the slow approval process for the loans.  In addition, PRRIA dedicates a significant portion of the RRIF program to the Northeast Corridor to incentivize states and localities to seek loans that advance projects of national and regional significance.

The bill is expected to be voted out of the committee next week. It is unclear at this point whether or not it will be considered on the House floor this Congress.

For more information, please contact Sean O’Neill at (202) 547-8892 or oneills@agc.org Return to Top

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2014 ELECTIONS
Primary Season Is Over
 

The last major primary of the 2014 election cycle went as expected on Tuesday in Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

Here are the highlights:

In Massachusetts, nine-term Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.) became the fourth U.S. House member to lose re-nomination this year.  Iraq War veteran Seth Moulton came out on top with a substantial 49-41 percent victory.

The Tierney defeat is really a term late. With his wife being convicted of federal tax fraud for filing illegal returns associated with her brothers' illicit off-shore Internet gambling business several months prior to the 2012 election, Tierney barely escaped losing to former state Sen. Richard Tisei (R). The Congressman barely won re-election 46-45 percent. Though a surprise comeback winner in 2012, his inherent political weakness made him highly vulnerable against a strong Democratic primary opponent this year.

Up in the Granite state, former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown easily won the New Hampshire Senate Republican primary last night, securing 50 percent of the vote against nine opponents. Former state Sen. Jim Rubens was second with 23 percent, edging former U.S. Sen. Bob Smith by just 761 votes. Polling continues to point to a close Senate race between Mr. Brown and incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D).

For more information, please contact David Ashinoff at (202) 547-5013 or ashinoffd@agc.org Return to Top

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AGC EVENTS
Early Bird Discount Ends Tomorrow – Don’t Miss Out
2014 AGC Highway & Utilities Contractors Conference
 

Construction Future will be the overriding topic at the 2014 Highway & Utilities Contractors Conference on Nov. 13-15 at the LaCosta resort in San Diego, Calif. A variety of sessions are planned to cover topics that will help contractors position their companies for the Construction Future.  Session topics Include:

  • Election Update: What did the 2014 Midterm Congressional Elections mean for the construction industry? Steve Sandherr, CEO AGC of America
  • Recruiting, Retaining Future Managers: Whether you’re a seasoned construction veteran looking for those individuals who will manage your company in the future or a future manger looking for direction in your career this session is for you. Hear from seasoned veterans and ascending managers about: What do the future leaders of the highway, transportation and utility markets look like? What it takes to be successful in today’s construction industry. How do those future leaders communicate? Balancing work and family. 
  • Apps, Software, Technology: What’s the latest and how are contractors using these new tools. An interactive discussion will focus on how contractors are using new technologies to meet safety and other regulatory requirements, monitor productivity and manage contract progress.
  • Paperless Projects: Coming to a DOT Near You: Hear from the Michigan DOT and contractors working on MDOT projects. After managing several pilot projects electronically, including plans, QC/QA, payroll and other contract requirements, why both the industry and DOT want to go 100 percent paperless.
  • Construction Mega Trends: FMI will discuss what the industry look like in the next 10 years and beyond.
  • Legal Developments: A construction attorney will discuss court decisions that will have broad industry implications next year and in the future.
  • Working with Designers in a Design-Build Relationship: Teaming, Selection, Negotiation, Coordination and Insurance. How to be success in this growing part of the highway and utility market.
  • Traditional golf tournament and Glow in the Dark golf provide opportunities for networking with contractors from around the country.

Register today to prepare for tomorrow.  Information about the conference can be found at meetings.agc.org/HighwayUtilities.

For more information, please contact Scott Berry at berrys@agc.org or Brian Deery at deeryb@agc.org. Return to Top

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Sign up NOW for the AGC/CFMA Construction Financial Management Conference
Early Bird Extended Until Tomorrow – Last Chance to Save
 

Jointly sponsored by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) and the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA), the AGC/CFMA Construction Financial Management Conference, held Nov. 5-7, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nev., was developed in response to a need for programs and workshops designed specifically for financial professionals in the construction industry.

The three-day conference is filled with 36 interactive sessions, covering the latest industry issues and their financial implications. Sessions are delivered “group-live” and are at intermediate, overview and update program levels. There are no prerequisites or advanced preparation required.

Information about the conference can be found at meetings.agc.org/agc_cfma

For more information, please contact Brynn Huneke at (703) 837-5376 or brynn.huneke@agc.org Return to Top

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Early Bird Registration Opens for AGC Financial Issues Winter Meeting
 

The AGC Financial Issues Forum (FIF) Winter Meeting will be held Jan. 8-9, 2015, at the Longboat Key Club.

 The meeting is geared toward AGC member company CFOs, treasurers, finance directors, controllers, tax directors and other senior accounting professionals. Members have an opportunity to learn as well as formulate positions on tax and accounting matters that directly affect the bottom line and operations of construction companies of all sizes and specialties. Current FIF projects include helping construction companies prepare for the new Revenue Recognition Accounting Standard Update that goes into effect in 2017.

Meetings center around discussions with FASB reps, congressional representatives, practitioners, and financial officer breakout groups on topics including internal controls, project performance reviews and using technology in operations or accounting functions. Attendees also have an opportunity to network and discuss a wide variety of topics, including: Audit issues faced by construction companies, congressional action on tax policy, and an economic outlook for the industry.

Information about the conference can be found at meetings.agc.org/fif.

For more information, please contact Brian Lenihan at (202) 547-4733 or lenihanb@agc.org. Return to Top

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